Julie Jalove (right), a longtime teacher at Lincoln Scho0ol in Brookfield, was invited to join a roundtable discussion on education this summer in Washington, D.C., with other educators from throughout the country and officials from the U.S. Department of Education, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (left). | Provided

A fourth- grade teacher from Lincoln School in Brookfield was part of a teacher roundtable that met this summer with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Julie Jalove was nominated to participate in a K-12 Teacher Roundtable held August at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Department of Education by a former student, Mayra Baeza, now a senior at the University of Dayton, who was interning at the Department of Education last summer. 

Baeza, who is from Brookfield, played a major role in organizing the panel of teachers that met with DeVos in the first of what is planned to be many teacher roundtables. 

She said she thought Jalove would be a great teacher for DeVos to meet. Jalove taught Baeza in fourth grade and also taught her younger brother, Daniel.

“She’s an incredible teacher,” said Baeza who is majoring in sociology and human rights and minoring in political science. “She just made an impact on me. She always believed in me. I will never forget her.”

In August, Jalove flew to Washington D.C., along with 11 other teachers from across the country, to meet with DeVos and Assistant Secretary of Education Frank Brogan. 

Jalove, who has taught for 27 years, including the last 20 years at Lincoln School, said she initially was uncertain whether to go, because DeVos is a controversial figure among teachers. 

“At first, I was a little nervous and intimidated because, of course, with all the controversy with her how are people going to perceive that I’m going to see her,” Jalove said.

But after conferring with an official from her union, Jalove decided to participate and she is glad she did.

She said that DeVos and Brogan wanted to hear from the teachers what it was on like on the front lines of education.

“I tried to go in with an open mind,” Jalove said. “I was impressed. Whether I like her or not is still another story, but at least I was impressed that I had the opportunity to do this.”

Jalove said that it was a good experience meeting with the other teachers participating in the roundtable as well as with DeVos and Brogan. 

“I enjoyed my time there,” Jalove said. “Now whether or not that was, you know, a show she put on, I was impressed with the fact that she brought us all in and that they said they were going to do it again, hopefully.”

 The roundtable discussion lasted for about three hours, and DeVos was present for nearly an hour, Jalove said.

“She was asking people questions just on how we felt about the state of education at this point,” Jalove said.

Jalove said DeVos seemed especially interested in hearing from her, because she was the most experienced teacher in the group.  

“They seemed very interested to hear what we had to say, because I don’t think they know,” Jalove said.

Jalove and the other teachers also toured the Department of Education building before heading home from the overnight trip.

Jalove said that DeVos was wanted to know how teachers thought they should be recognized and rewarded for their efforts.

Jalove told DeVos that she didn’t become a teacher to get recognition. She said that it meant a lot to her that a former student thought enough of her that she nominated her to be part of the roundtable. 

“This is my reward for teaching all these years,” Jalove said. “I made an impact in somebody’s life that they thought enough of me to have this opportunity.”